Festive Atmosphere as New Middletown Hockey Arena is Christened
By Mike Ready
MIDDLETOWN – It was Friday night lights on Tuesday night in Middletown, as the two rival high schools played the inaugural game at the brand new Middletown Ice Palace in front of a very vocal, standing room only crowd, as the Lions (2-0) defeated the Eagles (0-1) 4-2.
It was a gala event and it seemed like the whole town showed up, as police directed fans to secondary parking when the arena parking lots filled up hours before face-off time.
“It was a great experience to win the first game here,” Middletown North head coach Matt Clemente said. “It had a different feel to it than we’re used to, playing front of such a huge crowd. We had a bunch of alumni here tonight wishing this arena had been built while they were still playing; it was awesome. This arena was long overdue; this is what hockey in Middletown is all about.”
Middletown South scored the historic first goal at the arena just a minute and 40 seconds into the game. Forward Nick Malvasi’s close-range shot was blocked by Lion goalie Hunter Dillon with South forward Gavin Gulash picking up the rebound right in front of the net and beating Dillon to his right, for a quick 1-0 lead.
“I told the guys not to worry, we weren’t going to shut them out anyway,” Clemente said. “That first goal kind of woke us up a little; it was probably the best thing for us. After that we carried play for a good 20-25 minutes.”
At 11:26 of the first period Middletown North was called for tripping, but scored a short-handed goal at 9:51 to tie the game at one. Sophomore forward Vincent Tomasetti found junior forward Tim Felice alone for a break away and Felice scored as he fell to the ice in front of the net.
The Lions took the lead for good at 2:30 of the first period when junior co-captain Tom Terranova beat South goalie Owen Liskiewicz to take a 2-1 lead with assists from Tomasetti and senior co-captain Scott Huber.
Terranova had 21 goals and 34 points for the Lions last season and so far this season has three goals and five assists in two games to lead the team in points scored. Tomasetti’s two assists give him seven points in two games and he leads the team with four goals.
Middletown North continued to dominate the first period and capped it off by scoring with one second remaining in the period to take a two-goal lead, 3-1. Freshman forward John Dinnocenzo got his first goal of the season on Terranova’s second assist of the game.
“John took advantage of his opportunity,” Clemente said. “That was his first career goal and it was a game winner, in a huge game like this. That goal, with one second to play in the period, was huge for us.”
A little over a minute into the second period (13:44) the Lions made it four unanswered goals. Sophomore forward Khristian Acosta scored his third goal of the season on assists from Terranova and defenseman Ryan Davidson to push the lead to 4-1. Acosta has three goals and three assists for six points this season.
The Lions controlled the rest of the period and had a number of scoring opportunities, but some nice goaltending by Liskiewicz kept the score 4-1 at the intermission. North held South scoreless in three power-play opportunities in the period and out-shot the Eagles 19-12 in the first two periods.
Some masterful stops by Dillon and some stout defensive play by captains Jack Meyer and Scott Huber, a converted forward, held the Eagles in check in the third period until forward Ryan D’Emilia found the back of the net, unassisted, with 4:07 remaining in the game.
With 3:03 showing on the game clock, the Eagles Matt Torre clanged one off the post and Dillon jumped on the rebound for the save. That was as close as the Eagles would get as the Lions defense prevented any further damage the final three minutes of the game.
“They came out in the third period and really took it to us,” Clemente said. “They’re really well coached and we got lucky; they ran out of time. We came out real soft in the third period and they were coming. The guys might’ve gotten a little caught up in the emotions of the crowd, but we got the win in a very big game.”
“I was very happy with the way all my captains played tonight,” Clemente added. “Felice, Aacosta, and Tomasetti also played well and of course our goalie, Hunter Dillon, was outstanding. Dillon had 15 saves on the night. It’s nice to beat South in such a big game, but really it’s just another conference game, and we’re 2-0 in the conference.”